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11 tips for conquering life with kids when being pulled in a dozen directions

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I recognized them at the Kindergarten Family Dinner. Every September produces a new crop of the species—the parents whose eldest is starting kindergarten. They're the ones trying to get a five-year-old to eat the PTO's pizza offerings while chasing a toddler or swaying a baby in a carrier. Or both. They're frantic, confused, and maybe even a bit ashamed that they don't know what exactly they're doing. A mom I knew from preschool flashed me a panicked look as I approached. “How do people do this?" she spluttered without preamble.

By “this" I knew exactly what she meant: two adults, two jobs, two kids, two schools that close often and at random, rarely-overlapping intervals. Career advancement (or just not getting canned), soccer, family dinner, dentist appointments, the PTO, hypoallergenic birthday treats, playdates, after-school care. The freakin' Science Fair.

I had no magic bullet to offer. “Nobody knows what they're doing. Nothing makes sense and it's all a mess. Everybody's patching it together however they can." The look on her face as she received this information was equal parts frustration and relief.

It's true. And I think people need to hear it, to know they're not alone in this choppy surf. However, since this is my second ride on this merry-go-round, I do have some ideas about where to look for help.

1. Know what you're doing is really hard, and nobody else is acing it either

Look, we live in the only industrialized nation without mandated parental leave. Our public school calendars are calibrated for an agrarian society where children worked in the fields. Preschool and toddler care are astronomically expensive (my monthly bill last year was higher than my mortgage payment). Let's take a deep breath and just say, It's all cray-cray.

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2. Construct your village

Reach out to other parents in your child's class and grade level. If you're not there to touch base at drop-off or pick-up time, look for school social events, a Facebook group for your school, and ask your child's teacher for an email list. (For heaven's sake, please let everybody have your email address. We all need each other.)

What are the other parents doing about after school care? What about that weird 10-minute window for drop-off when there's no parking? Be open about what you need, and look for openings to offer help where you can, whether it's sharing a nugget of information or offering a standing play date. It absolutely takes a village.

3. Sign 'em up

Sit down with a glass of wine and tackle that stack of papers that came home the first week of school. Clues are hiding within. The flyer for a kung fu class where the teacher walks her students from the school to her studio. Yes! The after-school enrichment program—Animation! Knitting!

One of the biggest mistakes I've committed over the years is not hiring enough child care. No guilt. You need coverage, and your kids are going to meet some fabulous people and try some amazing new things. By the same token, don't sign them up for things you need to drive them to at 3:30 pm, unless they can carpool with a peer (remember your village).

4. Seek flex, at work and at home

Full-time work is often more than 40 hours a week, but which 40? Take a look at your work week and consider proposing small or large restructuring that might improve the situation for everyone. You're being proactive about maximizing your productivity, not caving under unbearable time pressures! Ask your partner to do the same and multiply your flex. Ask other families how they manage. Some have one full-time worker and one part-time or more flexibly arranged schedule; some have grandparents and great babysitters in their back pockets (try not to die of jealousy). If you're thinking of changing jobs, make flexibility a priority; otherwise you might find yourself spending all of that hard-earned raise on additional child care.

5. Set boundaries

Saying no is hard, but let's meditate on this: What is enough?

Even when your insides are squirming with the desire to please everyone, you'll need to find your backbone. It's okay to fake it 'til you make it. Portray confidence as best you can and eventually you start to feel it.

Set the timer on your phone to go off 15 minutes before you have to leave work to pick up the kids, whatever time that is, and a second alarm when you really have to go. When the first one goes off, it's time to wrap things up. I use about five minutes to finish my train of thought and jot down notes for the next day, because I know that standing in the doorway of my supervisor's office can eat up the other ten. When that second alarm goes off, and she hears it, she knows what it means, and we both shrug. Gotta go!

Likewise, you don't have to make cupcakes for the bake sale. Schools have endless needs, but look for your niche. Choose one way to contribute, whether it's an evening of employing your design know-how on the PTO calendar, or attending once-a-month committee meetings, or just sending in money instead of hawking wrapping paper. (Bulletin: You don't have to sell wrapping paper to your colleagues.) Then let go of guilt, you're pitching in where you can.

6. Master the calendars

Spend an evening figuring out how to share calendars with people in Google Calendar or whatever program you use. If you're the person who takes the kids to soccer, but he's picking them up, you both need the sports schedule in your phones. Don't worry, you can control permissions so the folks at work can't see that you're at the podiatrist, they just see that you're busy. Add school closures, ballet recitals, music lessons.

Whether you use a paper calendar (like this one) or an electronic one, keep it consistent, keep it handy, and share the info with your partner and other caregivers. Evening check-ins with my partner have become a part of our routine; we both look at our calendars and tasks for the next day and make sure we're covered with pickups, drop-offs, permission slips, and the like.

7. Communicate often

When you're working, it's hard to get face time with your child's teacher. Don't feel bad, thank God for email and then use it. Most times it's easier to describe your kid's spelling foibles when she's not standing right there rooting through your purse for snacks. Make any requests clear and direct, and always thank them for their time, since answering emails often happens above and beyond their school days. If your child's teacher doesn't use email, send notes to the teacher using your kid's school folder or however he brings home school paperwork. For best results, use a sealed, labeled envelope.

8. Opt for easy

Cooking, bill-paying, house-cleaning, laundry, lawn care, how many of these things can you afford to outsource? Anything you can't hire out, demote it down the priorities list, then designate one person in your household who's responsible for it.

A playground conversation with another working mom contributed this “aha" moment when she said that now that her husband was in charge of all laundry, there was no discussing the laundry. It was his turf, end of story. She had taken complete management of the kitchen. Each partner gave the other their full confidence to handle their chores as they saw fit. Who takes out the trash? Who walks the dog? Talk these out with your partner, and try to relax your standards on these fronts too. I won't even tell you how long it's been since I mopped my kitchen floor.

9. Plan meals and shop once a week

This seems like it's going to be a pain in the ass. And the first three times you do it, it's totally a pain in the ass. After that, it's life-altering. All kinds of resources are popping up to help families with the perennial problem of walking in the door every evening with growling bellies and no idea what to cook. Some of my favorites are the meal-planning section of The Kitchn, the drag-and-drop meal planner from Cooking Light, and (yes, another parent taught me) Cookin' with Google, a custom search that lets you type in ingredients from your fridge and get recipes that use them.

Most Saturdays I construct my weekly plan with a mix of things that need used up before they rot, things I personally want to eat, and things I can make really quickly, taking the week's activities into account. This means that grocery shopping happens just once a week, and that saves me time and money. You can read more of my evangelizing about meal-planning here.

10. Make time for yourself

You're rolling your eyes at me right now, and I don't blame you. It sounds completely impossible. Periodically it gets that way for me too, and I have to steer myself back to self-care. I once took a night class on self-care, and just going to it once a week was fantastic. I want my kids to see me happy, and to know what I care about beyond my breakfast cereal preferences.

My husband is a musician and plays music one night a week. That night is sacred. I put the kids to bed, he picks up his guitar at a friend's house and for a few hours gets to nurture that thing he loved in the BC era (before children, before jobs became careers).

Even if you're sure you're too tired to leave the house, drag yourself to the closest cafe for a couple of hours, or take a walk, preferably with a friend who can laugh with you about all the ridiculous parts. Wherever you begin is a good place to begin.

11. Work to change it

Alongside all this flexing and stretching and talking about how mind-bendingly hard it all is, let's work on making it better, for everyone. When I rage about being squeezed from every angle, it helps to put some of that energy into advocating for change on a policy level. What would make it work better?

Organizations like Moms Rising focus on legislation for paid parental leave and paid sick leave on the state and federal levels. Apps like 5 calls make it easy to contact legislators, even if all you have is five minutes in the parking lot. Look for candidates in your own backyard who talk about the importance of family-friendly policies. Yep, most times these are going to be women.

In your own workplace, support flexible work policies and those who are using them, and work to create a culture where people can be vocal about their family needs without recrimination. Let's all make it better than we found it.

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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In America, mothers have the right to breastfeed their child in public, but what about when you're on an airplane? That's the issue one California mom, Shelby Angel, brought to light after she had a bad experience on Dutch airline KLM.

In a Facebook post that has gone viral Shelby explained:

"Before we even took off, I was approached by a flight attendant carrying a blanket. She told me (and I quote) "if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself." I told her no, my daughter doesn't like to be covered up. That would upset her almost as much as not breastfeeding her at all. She then warned me that if anyone complained, it would be my issue to deal with (no one complained. On any of the flights I took with my daughter. Actually, no one has ever complained to me about breastfeeding in public. Except this flight attendant)."

Shelby's post gained traction but soon the conversation spread to Twitter, where another woman, Heather Yemm, asked KLM to explain its breastfeeding policy.

The airline responded, "To ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this." Twitter users didn't like this response and even started asking other airlines about their breastfeeding policies.




British Airways confirmed it welcomes breastfeeding onboard and a Delta rep tweeted that the airline's policy is to "allow a breastfeeding mother to feed her child on board in a manner she feels comfortable with."

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That sounds like a good plan to us. Southwest was also questioned by Twitter users and confirmed that "Southwest does indeed welcome nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities".

This important online conversation underscores how vital it is for airlines to have supportive policies in place and train staff on those policies. Back in March, a Canadian mom made international headlines after an Air Canada call center representative told her to nurse in an airplane bathroom (a suggestion that is contrary to Air Canada's own policies).

It's time for every airline to recognize that breastfeeding needs to be welcomed and that all staff members need to understand this. Whether a mother uses a cover or not needs to be up to her, not a flight attendant or other passengers.

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I grew up with three brothers and yes, it was loud, crazy, chaotic, but also so much fun. We had vacations where we laughed a lot, Christmas Eves full of staying up late to listen for Santa, and inside jokes that made me feel like I had my own little secret club. What I really loved about being in a big family was that it gave me a sense of community, so when I came home and the outside world had been cruel or harsh I had my people.

People always gasped when I said I had three brothers and no sisters like they weren't sure how I survived around so many barbarians. I never felt like I was missing out. My brothers are caring people, my mom was always around, and we all got married young giving me three sisters-in-law who I call close friends.

Now we all have our own families and we live 30 minutes from each other. We still manage to get together with all 12 of the cousins (all under 12, yes it's chaos) and laugh and make memories. My oldest brother has four kids, my second oldest has three, I have three, and my youngest brother has two and we pretty much all had them at the same time. We are also a very girl heavy bunch, only four boys total in the whole mix.

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Recently we were all on a family vacation and I was sitting around with my sisters-in-law and we were talking numbers, who was done having kids. My sister-in-law with four said she was overwhelmed, my other one said they were adopting one more and my other sister-in-law and I just said, we don't know. We both have three and four feels like a big jump.

It's funny how everyone talks about how you know when to start having kids but no one tells you how hard it will be to decide when your family is done. I know that's not true for everyone, I have lots of friends that just knew. Others never had the luxury of deciding and then some are like me living life on the fence hoping the fertility fairy will drop an answer in your lap.

I have to admit, I don't know if I'm done having babies. All these questions keep popping in my head.

If I have two girls and one boy should we go for the fourth and try for a brother?

Or if we have three girls will the level of drama be too high?

Or if one kid really likes one of their siblings and not the other should we have more?

Should we factor in age?

Should they be two grades apart or three or four?

Should we give up if it's too hard or will we regret it?

Should we adopt if we can or have another biological?

Should we close up shop and enjoy the kids we have?

Will our marriage survive another newborn season?

What is the perfect number?

There are a thousand possible scenarios and the questions just eat away at my brain. They keep me up at night. I'm not even kidding. I have laid in bed and played out every scenario and the possible outcome.

I do this because my childhood in all of its loud glory was the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. My brothers, our friendship, my parents' choice to fight for close-knit relationships, all of it was what gave me the foundation I needed.

So now as a parent myself, I want to give that same gift to my own kids.

What if there is no perfect number? What if you just choose to make family a safe, secure place, where your kids can feel valued and loved? Does it matter then if you have one, two, three, four or whatever number you have? Will the effect still be the same?

I think so.

The reality is though, I want what I had. I want a family where my kids feel this sense of community they might not get anywhere else and that's not a numbers game that's a culture thing.

I have had to come to accept that I have no guarantee and that there is no perfect number. Each family comes with its own set of complications, joys and strengths. The uniqueness is actually part of the fun.

We have two girls and a boy now and I watch my girls bond as sisters and think, oh this is what people were talking about. Sure, I wish my son had a brother but he has two amazing sisters that love on him and will even dress up like superheroes sometimes.

We still don't know if we are "done" but we do know our family is already great and the number isn't as important as what we choose to make important.

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Life

My darling,

I'm not entirely sure why I do things like this to myself, but tonight, as I rocked our night-before-turning-1-year-old daughter to sleep I closed my eyes and, for about 10 minutes, I pictured what our life will look like in 10 years.

(You're probably reprimanding me for doing that in your head right now. 😂)

In 10 years, our three daughters will be almost 15, almost 13, and 11—not a single-digit in sight. We'll be dealing with high school and middle school and hormones and the start of love interests and things that aren't diaper changes and baby proofing and teething.

We won't be rocking them to sleep anymore or cutting up their food. And I'm sure we'll miss the validation of being the ones who keep their world turning because simply put—we won't be the center of their Universe anymore.

Instead of them needing us to lay with them until they fall asleep, they will need us to remind them that it's bedtime at 9 pm, 10 pm, then again at 11 pm.

Instead of tripping over dolls strewn about the floor, we will be tripping over lacrosse sticks and backpacks and bras.Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

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Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

It will be a whole new world.

I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

The good 'ol days.

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Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

It will be a whole new world.

I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

The good 'ol days.

Life

There are a lot of points during labor when mothers do not have any control over what's going on with their body. The one thing they usually have, if giving birth vaginally, is their ability to push. But a recent report by Vice highlights the fact that in some hospital delivery rooms, women are being told to stop pushing, even when the urge is nearly irresistible. And in some cases, this may be happening for some very troubling reasons.

"If a woman's cervix is fully dilated and she has the urge, she should be allowed to push, barring some unusual complication with mother or baby," Dana Gossett, chief of gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, told Vice.

Writer Kimberly Lawson gathered anecdotal evidence suggesting that in many situations, hospital nurses are telling women to stop pushing because the doctor or midwife isn't available to deliver the baby. In some cases, women even report nurses forcing a baby's crowning head back into the birth canal.

"I've never felt a more painful experience in my life [than] being strapped down and forced to hold a baby in," says Elaina Loveland, a mother who was told to stop pushing because there were no beds available at the hospital when she arrived. "It was almost worse than the pushing. It was horrible."

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In addition to pain, women made to resist the urge to push may experience other complications. Delayed pushing sometimes causes labor to last longer, puts women at higher risk of postpartum bleeding and infection, and puts babies at a higher risk of developing sepsis, according to a study released last year. One midwife explained in the article that holding the baby in can damage a mother's pelvic floor, which might later cause urinary incontinence.

In one extreme case, Caroline Malatesta, a mother of four in Alabama said that when a nurse forced her baby's head back in, she caused permanent damage. After four years of chronic pain from a condition called pudendal neuralgia, she won a $16 million lawsuit against the hospital.

Nurses aren't necessarily being cruel when they instruct mothers to stop pushing, by the way. They may be hoping to prevent other complications, such as problems with the umbilical cord or shoulder dystocia. A doctor or midwife is better trained to correct such situations, and can also help prevent perineal tearing.

If hospital staff are instead making these decisions because of a shortage of obstetricians or hospital beds for expectant mothers, there's a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. As people have grown increasingly aware of the high rate of maternal deaths after childbirth, issues like these could point out where there's room for improvement.

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